B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

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B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:44 pm

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by cappuccino » Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:56 pm

Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha's Words on Loving-Kindness
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:03 pm

From the linked entry:
In his defense, B. Sujato surely does not intend the 'verb' sense of romantic sexual love and lust, but 'love' is a loaded word where that is how most people understand and interpret that word in many, if not most contexts. It's not mutually excluded from the primary definition either. Most people will not assume B. Sujato is referring ONLY to a Christian Jesus type of brotherly, neighborly love. Most people conflate their idea of 'love' to include both meanings.
I think most people's sensitivity to context will preclude them seeing this as anything about sex and romance. In English, we "love" our sexual partners, our parents, our children, ice cream, our country, our pets, and pleasant weather. Only one of these implies any sexual content (or should do). People are used to dealing with the word in this context-dependent way. Anyone who thinks that Sujato is advocating the arousal of lust would soon be corrected if they read a little further or spoke to other practitioners.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Antaradhana » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:42 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:03 pm
I think most people's sensitivity to context will preclude them seeing this as anything about sex and romance. In English, we "love" our sexual partners, our parents, our children, ice cream, our country, our pets, and pleasant weather. Only one of these implies any sexual content (or should do). People are used to dealing with the word in this context-dependent way. Anyone who thinks that Sujato is advocating the arousal of lust would soon be corrected if they read a little further or spoke to other practitioners.
Metta is kindness, kindheartedness. Love can be accompanied by kindness, but beyond that it also contains affection, be it brotherly or maternal love.
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:26 pm

As observed on the Sutta Central discussion board
...translation issues can stir a healthy level of discussion and discord; the issue of the definition of metta has always been one of these issues.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/ho ... hi/3808/38
Perhaps "love" has gained some bad connotations in some circles, but I do note that if I search the Oxford dictionaries the first entry is:
1. An intense feeling of deep affection.
‘babies fill parents with feelings of love’
‘their love for their country’
https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/love
I find the various translations that Bhikkhu Sujato has come up with interesting. It's breaking out of those complex wordings of the traditional translations. Those are available for comparison, and the Pali is easily matched on Sutta Central, so there would have been little point in him producing a minor variation on Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations.
Sujato wrote: There are many things in the Pali where the translation feels colder and less vivid than the text. Obviously in some cases this is unavoidable. But where possible, I am trying to make the language closer, more direct, more human.
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/a- ... er/2277/19
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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by pilgrim » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:41 pm

He also translate bhikkhu as "mendicants" and madu as "Manuka honey". These are more like interpretations, not translations.
Some of the reasons I use B Bodhi's translations more often.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:44 pm

it's not horrible or wrong
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:39 am

pilgrim wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:41 pm
madu as "Manuka honey"
Those naughty Australians. First they use our word to label their honey, then they steal the term for their sutta translations. Outrageous!
Australians have been accused of "stealing" the term mānuka honey as well as undermining New Zealand's industry by diluting the definition of what constitutes the valuable honey.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farmin ... ey-success
pilgrim wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:41 pm

These are more like interpretations, not translations.
Some of the reasons I use B Bodhi's translations more often.
Seriously, Manuka Honey is certainly a stretch. But as for some of the others, the problem is that words in any language have a variety of meanings. Sometimes it's the Pali word (dhamma, saṅkāra, ... ) that has multiple meanings, and can't be translated coherently to a single English word. In this case, metta https://suttacentral.net/define/mett%C4%81 has a relatively singular meaning, but any English translation choice (love, benevolence, kindness, goodwill, ...) has various shades of meaning and one could take issue with any of the choices. I see how love raises objections as one of the meanings is: "A strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone". However, in other contexts it works well. The problem with some of the other options, such as goodwill, kindness, or benevolence, is that they can have the connotation of being rather distant and detached: "I showed kindness to the beggar by giving him a dollar"; "I was just being friendly...". Whereas love has a more connected, committed, connotation: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,...".

Maybe this is the source of the disagreement. Perhaps some think that metta is supposed to have a detached feel to it?

In the end, no translation is perfect. It's wonderful that we have different translations to compare, ranging from Frank's word-by-word translations, Bhikkhu Bodhi's traditional-terminology translations that try to keep some of the feel of the Pali, but sometimes fall into the depths of Buddhist Hybrid English (“Bhikkhus, if a person immersed in ignorance generates a meritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the meritorious; ..." https://suttacentral.net/sn12.51/en/bodhi#sc13).

:heart:
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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by frank k » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:33 am

Maybe this is the source of the disagreement. Perhaps some think that metta is supposed to have a detached feel to it?

In the end, no translation is perfect. ...
The amount of detachment in metta, there can be legitimate differences of opinion and healthy discussion. But metta as 'love' is WRONG. Show me in the EBT where metta has the ambiguity as 'love' does in English (with sexual attraction and romance). With such an important concept like metta, it's negligent and irresponsible for the translator to introduce ambiguity where it doesn't exist from the source material pali with 'metta'.
mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:39 am
... Sometimes it's the Pali word (dhamma, saṅkāra, ... ) that has multiple meanings, and can't be translated coherently to a single English word. In this case, metta https://suttacentral.net/define/mett%C4%81 has a relatively singular meaning, but any English translation choice (love, benevolence, kindness, goodwill, ...) has various shades of meaning and one could take issue with any of the choices. I see how love raises objections as one of the meanings is: "A strong feeling of affection and sexual attraction for someone". However, in other contexts it works well. The problem with some of the other options, such as goodwill, kindness, or benevolence, is that they can have the connotation of being rather distant and detached: "I showed kindness to the beggar by giving him a dollar"; "I was just being friendly...". Whereas love has a more connected, committed, connotation: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,...".
With Dharma and Sankhara, they are multi-valenced and ambiguous in Pali, and so if the best one could do in English is also choosing an ambiguous English word, who can blame the translator? But with 'metta', that is not the case. In the Agamas for example, I'm pretty sure the Chinese took great care to make sure 'metta' was not translated with ambiguous Chinese words that crossover into romantic love and sex.

Translating 'metta' as 'love' is in clear category of 'Wrong', not in the category of 'legitimate difference of opinion'.
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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:18 pm

Hi Frank,
frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:33 am
Translating 'metta' as 'love' is in clear category of 'Wrong', not in the category of 'legitimate difference of opinion'.
I wonder if there are, perhaps, some variations of interpretation between those of us who speak different varieties of English. Perhaps those of use who are native British or Australasian English speakers don't have the same baggage with regard to the word "love". I certainly don't think it's perfect, but I see flaws in the alternatives as well, as I pointed out above.

I wonder this partly because, not being a native American English speaker, I sometimes find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writing style very obscure, whereas some think it's wonderfully clear.

Metta :heart:
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Sam Vara
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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:46 pm

frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:33 am
Show me in the EBT where metta has the ambiguity as 'love' does in English (with sexual attraction and romance). With such an important concept like metta, it's negligent and irresponsible for the translator to introduce ambiguity where it doesn't exist from the source material pali with 'metta'.
In there some sort of rule which says that a term which is unambiguous in one language cannot be rendered by a term which is ambiguous in another?

Even if there is, it is more true to say that the English term "love" has a wider semantic range than metta, rather than it being more ambiguous. Ambiguity refers to situations where a word is open to more than one interpretation, and in this context I don't know of any cases where that misinterpretation has happened.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:48 pm

So what is a good translation for metta?

"Kindness" might work, but I'm not convinced its strong enough? Maybe "loving kindness"?

Metta sounds very strong when you read the Karaniya Metta Sutta, like a mother loves her child and all that.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .amar.html
Last edited by Dinsdale on Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by befriend » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:25 pm

use you wisdom faculty wisdom solves everything it diminishes unwholesome qualities when you experience them or open to or are with them and strengthens wholesome qualities when you are with them bring to mind whatever your thinking about love and just open to it and be with it wisdom will come to your mind about wether love is healthy or not. See for your self.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:26 pm

I agree with you Frank, "love" for "metta"-- it is incorrect and misleading.

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Re: B.sujato translates 'metta' as 'love'. That's horrible, and it's wrong.

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:02 pm

The blog reminds me of this passage from the Mahāsi Sayādaw's discourse on the Vammika Sutta. Although it is on the topic of metta, it is lacking in good-will. Translation is not an exact science, but an art.
In his discourse on the Vammika Sutta, the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw relates the following incident that took place in Thanbyuzayat, a town within Moulmein District, and was published in one of the Daily Newspapers.

Four or five elders from that town were chatting on a religious topic. It is customary in Burma among knowledgeable elderly people to meet whenever there is any social or religious function such as a memorial service for the deceased. They usually discuss religious topics while the reception is going on with light refreshments such as green tea and some delicacies like pickled tea-leaf (laphet). Sometimes, heated discussions take place, and the participants disagree on controversial points. On this occasion, the elders became indignant and assaulted one another ending up with them being interviewed by police officers. The news editor who reported the story, remarked that the elders concerned had been placed in police custody, but “a redeeming feature” was that the topic of discussion happened to be on patience (khantī).

The editor hit the nail right on the head. Intolerance is the worst thing when discussing the topic of patience, which needs to be exercised as advised by the Buddha. Indignation resembles the toad that swells up. It gives a great deal of trouble and therefore really needs to be discarded.
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